One of the most serious possible side-effects of diabetes is losing a limb. According to the Southern Arizona Limb Salvage Alliance (SALSA), “every 20 seconds, somewhere in the world, a limb is lost as a consequence of diabetes.”
A young Israeli designer named Lilach Steiner has come up with a shoe, inspired by horse hoofs, which is designed to improve circulation.
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You may not see the connection between a horse hoof and diabetes but Steiner did. Steiner, as part of her end of year project for the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, conceived a shoe that automatically tends to disrupted blood flow in the legs, a major issue for diabetics.
Inspired by her love for horses, Steiner modelled her “diabetic shoes” on the mechanism of a horse hoof, which acts as a pump to return blood to the legs.
Treatment on the move
People with diabetes have a much higher likelihood to suffer from an array of foot problems. Diabetes causes blood vessels of the foot and leg to narrow and harden. Many people with diabetes also suffer from peripheral arterial disease, which reduces blood flow to the feet.
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After consulting with experts in the field, Steiner discovered that these problems can be mitigated by a daily leg massage treatment that focuses on areas from the knee to the soles of the feet. She was introduced to various devices that provided such treatment, yet Steiner was sensitive to the fact that these devices were immobile.
She set out to “create a shoe that encourages and improves blood flow in the soles of the feet, while sitting, standing and walking,” she tells NoCamels. She believes her shoe can “do away with the planning and excuses reserved for other devices.”
Flow, the name of Steiner’s creation, utilities bodyweight to create a massage effect. Upon impact with the ground, ridges inside the shoe apply pressure to the foot, just like a regular massage. Flow therefore provides the benefits of other blood circulation devices in an automatic and constant way.
Steiner’s creation is still in the conceptual stage and “will take some more steps” before its can be released onto the market. She has recently received a scholarship from the Manufacturers Association of Israel that will help fund the research necessary to produce Flow.
Photo: Oded Antman, courtesy of Bezalel